In a follow up to last week’s column about some useful Italian words and phrases to take with you on an Italian holiday, I’ve whipped up some more which you can utter with confidence as you travel, thus impressing the indigenous population and yourself into the bargain.
How about that much heard expression ‘Ciao bello/a!’
This is a term of endearment as well as a compliment, but I should warn you that it is not to be used at each and every opportunity.
If, for example, you said it to 92 year old Mario, it could be misconstrued and he might think his luck was in again.
It might also not be the thing to say to your patrolling Carabiniere or the bank cashier, both of whom could become suspicious by this outpouring of unbridled affection.
However, if you are having a good day, and wish to spread warmth and happiness around, you could do worse than finish a conversation with, ‘Tante belle cose!’ which is basically wishing your recipient all good things.
This would be more appropriate to use with people you know, of course, and with whom you have built up a rapport.
And, if you’re stuck somewhere and in need of a particular shop or place, there’s a very useful little phrase to conjure up when required, which is, ‘C’e un.........qui vicino?’ (Is there a bla near here?)You can then dig out your Italian-English pocket dictionary and fill in the gap appropriately.
However, if you fancy a trip to the Casino, do be careful as this word means ‘Brothel’ in Italian so, ‘C’e un Casino qui vicino?’ could be met with a few raised eyebrows not to mention that Carabiniere in hot pursuit after you called him ‘bello’.
In similar vein, if you fancy a trip to a Factory shop, don’t use the word ‘Fattoria’ or you might find yourself surrounded by sheep and pigs in a rural location.
And finally, if you’ve lost your beloved digital thingammyjig, and ask, ‘Ha visto la mia camera?’ they’ll be escorting you to your hotel room.